US | Mar 2, 2023

Snacks for sale through ‘Snack-A-Tak’ vending machine business

Candice Stewart

Candice Stewart / Our Today

Reading Time: 7 minutes
Emile Waddell, owner and CEO of Snack-A-Tak LLC. (Contributed photo: Emile Waddell)

Have you ever seen or used a snack vending machine and wondered how you could tap into that type of business? That is the basis on which Emile Waddell, a Jamaican living in the United States (US), started his snack and beverage vending machine company, Snack-A-Tak LLC. 

“It [Snack-A-Tak] is a company I created that focuses on providing food and beverages, primarily snacks and sodas through vending machines,” Waddell said to Our Today in an interview.  He said that he coined the name based on the words, ‘snack’ and ‘attack’. “It means that the snacks you desire will be coming. If you need snacks, then Snack-A-Tak has got you,” he said. 

Based in Maryland in the United States, the company is in its infancy stages. It was established just this year (2023). Despite being brand new on the scene, Waddell is hopeful that he will be able to spread his wings and have Snack-A-Tak in strategic locations. 

Emile Waddell, owner and CEO of Snack-A-Tak LLC. (Contributed photo: Emile Waddell)

“Last year, the idea came to me to venture into the vending machine business but it was only a thought and I did not know how to start,” he said.  “During my research, I saw a vending machine at an extended stay hotel and openly spoke with someone that I wish I knew how to tap into the vending machine business. It turned out that the machine was owned and managed by that person’s fiancé,” Waddell shared. 

With his interest piqued, Waddell engaged in a more targeted discussion to learn about the industry. He gathered what he needed, and at the end of the conversation, Waddell discovered that the vending machine at the centre of the conversation was for sale. 

“I thought that it was such a serendipitous moment and a great way to catapult myself into a business that I’ve been interested in for so long. I got the low-down on how to start the business and basically that’s how I arrived at where I am,” he said. “I’ve given myself a head start. I have a location (in the same extended stay hotel, I have the machine, I also had some products.” he continued.  


As an infant company, Snack-A-Tak has a ways to go but Waddell is up for the challenge. 

He admits that there is much more to do on the side of marketing but he knows that it will come with time. 

“I have not sorted out my logo as yet and an official email address is in the works, among other things. They’re coming though! You have to understand that an opportunity came my way and I took the bull by the horns, so to speak,” he said. 

Though his transition into Snack-A-Tak was fairly smooth for him, he shared that he faced a few hiccups before establishing the company. 

“There was some wait time with getting the company created and that caused a ripple effect in sorting out other business-related matters. This included the transition of machine ownership from the previous people to me. It triggered a ripple delay effect and that slowed the process of opening a business account. I sought assistance from a lawyer to get the heavy lifting out the way and they guided me along the way. So, though it wasn’t a horrible experience, I spent more time than I would have liked in getting to where I am now, he said. 

A fully stocked Snack-A-Tak LLC vending machine owned and operated by Emile Waddell. (Contributed photo: Emile Waddell)


Though he currently has one vending machine, Waddell is confident that he will expand and grow. 

“The goal is to understand the machine, tweak any issues I may have, figure out what products sell, and from this start-up experience, I’ll know how to best approach my second, third, and fourth locations,” he said. 

Waddell explained the uniqueness of having his vending machine at an extended stay hotel. “It is a unique space. At an extended stay hotel, many people are there for long periods of time. They will want snacks at some point and they probably won’t have a desire to go on the road. So, I’m offering a ‘snacks-for-sale’ service to the hotel guests. The hotel is also in close proximity to a football stadium. So, people from that crowd have also used or have access to the machine,” he explained. 

Currently, his machine is stocked with water, sodas, juices, granola bars, chocolate bars, microwavable popcorn, cinnamon rolls and similar food and beverage types.

A fully stocked Snack-A-Tak LLC vending machine owned and operated by Emile Waddell. (Contributed photo: Emile Waddell)

In explaining how he stocks the machine, he said:  “In reselling products, some stores, once you have an agreement with them, will offer a tax-free benefit. Otherwise, you can buy the items in bulk yourself, apply your relevant mark-up costs and stock the machine.” 

Already thinking ahead, Waddell shared that he hopes to increase the number of vending machines and place them in spaces that have bustling and growing populations. High on the list are universities and spaces where college students generally live or conduct business. 

“I’m looking to break into the university spaces that have a large and continuously growing student population. I feel like Snack-A-Tak would do well in those spaces and that’s where my head is at,” he said. 

Waddell also expressed interest in diversifying locations and products sold. He mentioned the possibility of placing vending machines in hospitals where he could offer them healthy snacks and convenience. 

He shared that he might also expand his vending machine business to the Jamaican restaurant that his sister owns and operates. He said the plan is to stock that machine with authentic snacks from Jamaica and other Caribbean countries. “But that’s for the future when I fully understand what works for my business,” he said. 


Though his current focus is on expanding Snack-A-Tak, Waddell wears other hats. 

When he isn’t working as the Snack-A-Tak boss, Waddell operates as the community relations officer at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington DC in the US. When he isn’t in the embassy, Waddell wears the hat of a disc jockey and goes by the name DJ Emilio.

“Owning an LLC was not part of the vision but being in the land of opportunity has shown me that I can make anything happen for me. If I want to achieve something, somehow I can make it happen. That’s why I have Snack-A-Tak as well as my DJ gigs ,” he said.  

Emile Waddell, owner of Snack-A-Tak LLC wearing the hat of DJ Emilio. (Contributed photo: Emile Waddell)

“Exploring this new business does not rule out the chances of me furthering my reach in the world of music, as a DJ. I’m a pretty cool DJ and I have started building some musical content to create a stronger presence. I’m doing little things as DJ Emilio but right now. I’m placing a heavy focus on getting the vending machine out of infancy into a solid and strong company. Once that is done, then I will put even more effort into DJ Emilio,” he added

Waddell shared that as the community relations officer at the embassy of Jamaica in Washington DC, he liaises with the Jamaican diaspora and other community members to promote Jamaica. “I work with the community to support Jamaica and keep the diaspora informed. I also work to ensure that support is provided to folks within the diaspora. All this is in an effort to also build awareness of the existence and work of the embassy so that people can connect with us,” he said. 


Thinking about the vending machine business? Here are some words of advice from Waddell:  

“Do your research and seek information from everyone and everywhere! I am not one of those people who would go to spaces like YouTube for information, but that is something that you can do. In this day and age, artificial intelligence (AI) is the real deal. Use it to your benefit. In my situation, I asked AI for some questions to guide my thinking of the vending machine business. So, AI was like a sounding board for me,” he said.

“Additionally, look to your family for advice as well. In my case, I spoke with my sister who is a business owner. Try doing that. Just bounce ideas off people! Believe in yourself and ‘doh mek anyting stop yuh’. Bear in mind that problems will come but problems were made to be solved,” he continued.

To contact Emile Waddell, you may reach him at [email protected]

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